Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Now what?

My horse is gone, my kid is gone, and my family's gone. Jeez. I sound like a Country Western.

More later.


Saturday, November 19, 2005

Home for the holiday

He's coming home, folks. Just two days, just for the holiday. Just to see his extended family, many of whom will be here all of next week. Just to catch his breath; just to be loved.

I CANNOT wait to put my arms around that boy. Just cannot wait.


Friday, November 18, 2005

Such a tragedy

Fuck it all. Logan just called. As if the news that his beloved girlfriend of four years is pregnant--not by him--isn't enough to have to bear this week, one of his close friends died last night. An overdose: Methadone and something else--Xanax, maybe? The kid lived in one of the sober-living houses we'd considered. Logan really liked him--hung out with him all the time. I barely met this boy, but I am brokenhearted--for all of them.

Can I just go on record as saying how much I DESPISE drugs? Quicksand, folks. They're quicksand.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005


I've talked to him a couple of times now. He seems to be handling this well -- and by "well" I mean not relapsing (excuse me while I prostrate myself in gratitude.) But he and she have been arguing long distance. She says he's not being supportive. Yeah. I wonder why.

Funny how as the mom, I feel a little betrayed by this girl who has seemed like a daughter for so long now. I love her, I do, but, but, but...I don't know. There's just a "but" now, and there never was before.

Imagine how he feels.


Saturday, November 12, 2005

A thin crust

We're cleaning today, a family affair (rather unusual around here) and my husband has playing first the Beatles, and then the Carpenters on the CD player.

And I'm having a hard time dealing with it.

See, here's the thing. Having a kid with a heroin addiction is like having your normal life suddenly morph into you, alone, standing in the middle of the desert. At least you think it's a desert, until you realize it's more like a dry mud flat. No, you realize, it's a crust. A thin, brittle crust that supports your weight just fine--most of the time. You can walk on it. Hey, you can go to work. You can even laugh and smile and appear totally normal. But all it takes, folks--all it takes--is a phone call. A message. Or a question: "Hey Mom, have you, uh, have you talked to Logan in the last day or so?"

And the crust quivers. You thought it was dry, but no. There's something gelatinous under it.

"Why?" you say, heart palpitating.

"Well, cause, I talked to him to other night."

The crust cracks. "What? What do you know?" You can't breathe.

"Caitlyn's pregnant." Then, quickly, "Not by him."

You suck in air, you grab the countertop. The crust breaks and you fall through, into the sticky mess below. But you manage, somehow you manage. Twenty-four hours later, you're ironing curtains and listening to the damn Carpenters sing "I can't live a day without you" and suddenly you're freaking crying.

I mean, Jeezus. It's not his, and for that you have sacrificed a small lamb of gratitude. But you know how much of his hopes and dreams for recovery were tied up in this girl, of how they talked about getting married and having children, of how he adores her and she's talked recently about moving out to be with him and he's wanted so badly to get clean for her, for her, for them. And you ache for your child. Oh, you ache.

And you drive somewhere meaningless to pick up something meaningless, and your eyes are leaking and your lip curling and you know it's gone, the crust. You're sinking now, mired in the salty, tar-like gel that lives constantly under your surface. You try to climb back out to the top, you scramble and claw and tell yourself he can get through this, he won't relapse--and then you remember how devastating it can be for a young person in love to feel betrayed--and you know how goddamn lonely he must feel, and next thing you know you're home pouring your husband a cup of coffee and damn if you're not suddenly crying silently again, and to his, "What? What, honey?" you can only wail, "I don't know" because you weren't even thinking about your brokenhearted kid at that moment.

And you wonder if your crust will ever, ever heal and quit collapsing under you and christ, even grow grass again.

And you wonder about his crust. Oh god, you wonder, how strong is his crust.


Friday, November 11, 2005

A horse is a horse, of course, of course

Actually I'm just testing photo uploads, but just for the heck of it, here's that horse I'm always referring to. Purty, ain't he?


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The cat's in the bag

Okay, hush up on this one. I brought the kitten inside tonight. I've been saying, no, No, NO on having another cat in the house. Sure, they're cute when they're little. But 14 years later you're picking cat hair out of everything and swearing when they pee in the carpet. So that's NO, I don't care how damn cute it is. Sure, it wandered up to our house three weeks ago starving and emaciated, and yes you can feed it and keep it in the garage, but it CANNOT come in this house. Thus sayeth mother.

But---shh---no one was home tonight, so I snuck it inside and just watched it play while I cooked dinner. It's not skinny anymore, and almost over its fear of people. Made me smile. I'd forgotten how kittens just play, just for the heck of it. It dove into corners of the stairs, delighted by the stoic stillness of the carpet, driven to hilarity by the fact the stairs have levels.

Playing just for the sake of playing: what a concept.

And yeah, I already put it back outside, so quit giving me grief.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A limp carpet of oak leaves

I’m on my way out to feed the horse before work when a coughing fit seizes me—I just can’t seem to kick this cold—and after I recover, my eye is caught by a scrap of blue-white off to my far right. From the ridge of the road I'm on, I can see the base of the next ridge, a mile or so away. It’s dotted with rusty-red swirls of fall colors—the oaks that so stubbornly hang on to their leaves late in the season. I’m trying to decide if the blue-white is smoke that's trailing in a thick deposit from someone’s woodstove, a woodstove tucked into a home which is tucked into the trees, or if it’s just a scrap of fog caught on thick branches when all the rest of the fog cover has cleared out. Fog, I finally decide. It’s too even and flat to be smoke.

The road dips and twists and takes a couple hills, and then I’m there, crunching up the gravel drive to the horse shed. My oldest built this shed, and I feel a sense of pride—in the son—every time I’m out here. I have an apple in the back of the car, which I palm off to the horse. He eats it greedily, nodding his way through it, as horses do. I thow him some hay, rummage around in the feed bin for his daily ration, and pick my way through two-day-old mud to fill his water buckets. We have to haul the water every day from home. It’s a pain. Another coughing fit seizes me, and after it passes I lean against the fence rail, exhausted. Jeezus. I should be home in bed.

But since I’m on my way to work, I'm dressed up. The horse is muddy. But I unhook the chain and walk into his three-sided run-in stall, where he’s busily munching grain from his bucket. I sigh. We’ve been trying to sell him. I just don’t have the time to spend with him, and he’s a waste of money. Two hundred dollars a month for boarding as soon as it’s too cold to haul water out here any more. I lean into him, burying my face in his winter coat. Mmm: the smell of horse. I get that strong sense of peace I always get out here, feeding the horse. My fingers find their way into the soft folds between the top of his leg and his powerful barrel. I’m probably getting my new green sweater and lace cami dirty, but I suddenly don’t care. Jeez, it’s peaceful—the quiet and the leaves and the horse munching. Almost worth 200 bucks a month for this feeling. It’s like therapy. Although. I could do two sessions a month with a trained counselor for 200 bucks a month. Better yet, I could send 200 bucks a month to my boy in Cali for therapy. I talked to him last night. He sounded good, but distant.

I really have to get to work. I rub the horse between the ears—he hates that so I always do it, just to assert my dominance—and pick my way back through the mud to the outside of the pasture. The leaves are thick here, oak leaves that carpet the ground quietly, limp from the recent rain. I’ve barely climbed into my car to leave when there’s a loud cracking thump—like a horse’s hoof hitting the heavy wood wall of the shed—and suddenly the horse is barreling out, head high, tail lifted, eyes wide. Damn. Good thing I wasn’t standing there with my head buried in his shoulder when he decided to do that. I’d be lying in the mud now, new green sweater and cami and all. Stupid horse probably kicked the wall and scared his own self silly.

I back the car across the leaves and crunch out the gravel drive. That’s the thing about life. Just when you stop to drink in a moment of peace, suddenly you’re flat on your back in the mud. It’s just so damn unpredictable.

I pass again through the intersection of G and Brown—now there are orange police-marks all over the road, measuring the motorcycle skid marks. The blue-white fog is gone now. The day has begun.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Dawn to dark on the same road

The phone rings and I pick it up, knowing it'll be my hub. "Hey."

"Hey. I'm just now getting out to feed the horse." Just now? He left work when I did. I have a ferocious sore throat so decided to go by the pharmacy for cough drops and Vitamin C after work. He said he'd feed the horse; we'd get home about the same time. We have a work-related contract to go over together tonight.

"Just now? What took so long?"

"I've been at the intersection of G and Brown for while." That's half a mile from our property, from the horse on our empty land, the hungry horse.

"Explain yourself, dearie."

"Accident. A motorcycle."

I wait for the wave of fear to pass before I realize he couldn't have been in the accident. Could he have? No. He begins to tells the story.

He was the second one on the scene: A motorcycle strewn across the road, a man's body lying almost smack on the yellow center line. The man was face down, unconscious, head resting in a pool of blood. My hub threw the truck into park in the middle of the road, flashers going, and jumped out. The other man there, the first one on the scene, was deferent. "I used to be an EMT, but it's been a while." "Me too," Hub said, and flew into action.

The other man watched while Hub checked the prone man's pulse and listened for breathing. The first guy read the man's name from his wallet: Earl. "Earl," Hub kept saying. "Earl, can you hear me?"

Nothing. Nothing but gurgled breathing and an occasional moan.

More cars arrived, and finally a sheriff who had rubber gloves to offer and nothing else, no EMT skills. Hub kept his head down by Earl's face, listening to the breathing.

"Why?" I ask.

"If his breathing stopped, I would've had to do mouth-to-mouth. Which is kindof hard without a buddy mask." He knows I don't know what that is, so he explains it's a device to keep the patient's blood out of your mouth. I cringe. He tells me how he stayed until the actual EMTs and fire trucks and ambulance arrived, how he watched them set up flares for the arrival of Med Flight in the empty field, watched them apply traction to his head and cut off his leather jacket with long scissors, and then slipped away, unthanked and not wanting any thanks, to finish his original task: feed the horse.

Our long phone call has lasted long enough so that he's home now, pulling in the driveway. He hangs up and comes inside. I'm sitting on the bed wrapped in flannel, babying my cold. He comes in and kisses me. "You never know what the day will hold," he says.

"You're not even bloody," I say.

He holds his hands out, and I see the dried blood caking his fingers, his palms, his fingernails. He goes to wash it off and I sit soaking in admiration for him.

As the water runs in the other room, I begin to feel panicky for Earl, whoever he is. It was on that very road earlier this morning that I was thinking of my kid in Cali, thinking how you never quit worrying about them, wondering if they're okay, if they'll relapse, and wondering how you'd know if they did. No, you never quit worrying. I was thinking about that as I finished feeding the horse early this morning, when the day was golden and new. I was thinking about it as I passed through the intersection of G and Brown.

You never know what the day will bring.